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Student Attitudes About a Clinical Experience in Abortion Care During the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clerkship

Espey, Eve MD, MPH; Ogburn, Tony MD; Dorman, Fara MD

Academic Medicine:
Special Theme Research Report

Purpose: An optional half-day clinical experience in abortion care was offered to third-year medical students rotating through the core obstetrics and gynecology (Ob/Gyn) clerkship at the University of New Mexico to improve education about women’s reproductive health. This study using survey methods was conducted to rate the acceptability of the clinical experience and to document any changes in students’ attitudes toward women’s access to abortion.

Method: All 145 students who rotated through the Ob/Gyn clerkship between March 2000 and March 2002 were provided an 11-item, confidential questionnaire to complete. Students who did not participate in the abortion care experience were asked questions about their reasons for declining participation; students who did participate were asked questions about the value of the experience.

Results: Of the 145 students who rotated through the clerkship during the study period, 126 (87%) completed the questionnaire. Of these students, 86 (68%) participated in the clinical experience and 40 (32%) did not. The majority of students who participated in the clinical experience rated it very highly. Of the 86 students who participated in the clinical experience, 33 (38%) reported a change in their attitudes about abortion; 31 (94%) of these became more supportive of women’s access to abortion services.

Conclusion: Clinical experiences in abortion care are acceptable to and valued by a diverse group of medical students and should be offered at medical schools throughout the United States.

Author Information

Dr. Espey and Dr. Ogburn are assistant professors and Dr. Dorman is a resident, all in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Dr. Espey, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, MSC10-5580, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131; telephone: (505) 272-6309; fax: (505) 272-6385; e-mail: 〈〉.

© 2004 Association of American Medical Colleges